Dust Devils Make NWL Playoffs, Here’s How They Work

It is a new feeling for the Dust Devils and their fans, but before the month of August you can plan on playoff baseball in the Tri-Cities this September. Tri-City is ending the first-half of the season on an impressive run, winning 10 of their last 13 and clinched the Northwest League East Division first-half crown with a game to spare. The race for the first-half title, and a guaranteed playoff spot, was close for much of the season, with Boise and Spokane interchanging in the top spot with the Dust Devils. But the late run of wins propelled Tri-City to their third playoff appearance in five seasons.

The system that has given the Dust Devils the division championship and a playoff spot already was new in 2010, and here is how it works.

–          First half winners will have 7 days (Monday, August 1) to decide if they would like to host game 1 or games 2 and 3.

–          If one team wins both the first and second half of the season then the team with the next best winning percentage for the entire season will get into the playoffs. If there is a tie for the next best winning percentage then the second half tiebreakers come into play.

–          First Round in East and West

–          Game 1: Monday, September 5
Game 2: Tuesday, September 6
Game 3: Wednesday, September 7

–          Championship Round – Starting in the East (depending on stadium availability this schedule may change)

–          Game 1: East hosting on Friday, September 9
Game 2: West hosting on Saturday, September 10
Game 3: West hosting on Sunday, September 11


This format means that, regardless of how the second half plays out, the Dust Devils will be in the playoffs come September. The Spokane Indians would be the early favorite to be the second team from the East to make the playoffs in the second half, as they will finish in second place in the East after battling the Dust Devils for the top spot. The Boise Hawks were in the hunt as well, but struggled down the stretch and will finish a few games back of first place. Also, should the Dust Devils win the second half East Division title as well, overall winning percentage throughout the entire season is the tie-breaker, giving the Indians an advantage over Boise and Yakima.

As of now, Tri-City is the only team in the 2011 NWL Playoffs. The Eugene Emeralds, who broke the NWL record for consecutive wins and looked assured of a playoff spot weeks ago, is now in a tie with the red-hot Vancouver Canadians atop the West Division.  Tonight Eugene will take on the Everett AquaSox at home while the Canadians will host the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

Also, today Dust Devils outfielder Jared Simon was named Northwest League Offensive Player of the Week by MiLB for the week of July 18-24. During that stretch, during which Dust Devils offensive leader Jordan Ribera went on the disabled list, Simon stepped up his play at the plate and gave the team much-needed momentum. He went 10-for-26 with one home run, seven runs batted in, three doubles and had an on-base percentage of .538.

Former Dust Devils pitcher Josh Slaats also took home honors for his play last week, being named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week by MiLB. Slaats went 2-0 in two starts and 13 innings pitched in which he allowed one run while striking out 13. He is now 6-1 on the year with Colorado Rockies single-A affiliate Asheville Tourists.

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